Monday, May 10, 2010

Not great week morphs into something better

The good news is that I made it to see Aidan's play! It was so fun to watch all the kids, and Aidan did a great job. Thank you for your support there.

All is well now, but, last week was really pretty uncomfortable. I had my normal "not so fun" post-chemo days, but I was at least up and around.

I usually count on having a "chemo week," which I accept as unpredictable, followed by a "normal" week where I can recharge. But the bad days were stretching into my "normal" week -- no fair! I had severe abdominal pain and was truly unable to move for hours and then days on end, culminating with going to the ER mid-week. I really admire people who can withstand pain. I like to think I have a high threshold for pain, but at some point, physical pain really brings me to my knees.

The ER folks were fantastic. The IV nurse actually noticed that I might need rest more than an IV at that moment and left me alone. I got an x-ray -- no problems, and how handy to have Tiron (my radiologist husband) in the room to read it immediately. I started to feel better and better -- it must have started to clear itself up at that point. I decided to refuse the blood tests and the CT scan because they didn't seem to be necessary. And though the doctors wanted to keep me overnight for observation, they did let me go home instead. Yay!

I realized that I was less than optimistic after hearing all the worst-case scenarios described to me in the ER (like, if you leave and your bowel is perforated, you could die). I loved that my PCP called me the next morning and said, "This could very likely be a one-time occurrence, and it's over." That kind of positive energy is so contagious, and very much needed. I went from dragging my feet to walking on a cloud.

Though I wasn't depressed anymore, I still felt a bit sorry for myself about my bad week. Then, I got into the car, and the soundtrack for Jesus Christ Superstar came on. As the story unfolded (of the seven days before the Crucifixion), I thought, Okay, THAT is a bad week.

So, not to be a downer, but speaking of bad weeks, I'm realizing at this point, I know so many people who are living with cancer. They go in for their treatments, they do what they need to do every day, they worry about the future, they live in the present. In the grocery store or walking down the street, a casual observer would not realize they are struggling in ways different than anyone else. I always pictured cancer patients to be skinny, bald, on oxygen, or in wheelchairs. But that isn't always true, fortunately. They pretty much look like everyone else. And it makes me wonder what everyone is struggling with -- that woman I pass on the street who seems to have it all together, the man who waits a little too long when the traffic light turns green. But it doesn't make sense to focus too much on it, because they aren't focused on it at that moment either. There is so much more to life.

Not only are they living, they are living in ways that their doctors would never have predicted and maybe have never seen before. For several of them (and I hope, all of them), their cancers are shrinking and disappearing. And that gives me hope, too.

I want to share two disconnected stories with you. One night, we had dinner with a couple of musicians, one of whom pointed out that our very loud little boys have resonance. I didn't know what that was, so he described it roughly like this: Their bone structure amplifies the sounds they make, making their voices ideal for projecting in singing and theater. What a fun way to look at something that I previously felt was just, well, loud! I also realized that it would be an uphill battle to focus on quieting them down (even though I still try!) and maybe I should spend more energy helping to channel this rather than fight it.

The other is....I have been trying to say "yes" more often to the kids. Sometimes, I say yes when I should have said no and screw up royally. But, the other night, when my three-year-old asked for a popsicle before dinner and I said, "Yes," he enthusiastically responded, "I LOVE yes!"

I hope you get lots of yeses to things that bring you joy today and always. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is chemo, so do send your healing prayers if you can for good energy and for any cancer cells to disappear, for me and for all those living with problems that may be out of their control.

Love, Marie


ruth pennebaker said...

Marie -- Thinking about you. Thinking good thoughts about your having a wonderful week. Love to you and your family, Ruth

Andy said...

Great post, Marie!

Marie said...

Many thanks to both of you - these comments gave me a boost each day.